HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Honolulu — Singapore remains interested in the F-35 joint strike fighter, but does not expect to procure the fifth-generation jet until the 2030 timeframe, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said Sept. 30.
“The F-35s are considered form a timeframe of 2030 and beyond for our defense needs, and in that light we are not in a hurry and we are still evaluating,” Ng said here following a meeting of the ASEAN defense ministers. “It’s a good plane, but our needs aren’t so urgent at this point and time.”
Singapore has long been linked to the F-35 program, and in February 2015 Joint Program Office head Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan said he believed the country has “begun to take the next step toward making a decision.”
But since then, there has been little visible movement from Singapore towards procuring the jet. It is also unclear what variant of the jet the country might eventually seek to buy.
Ng believes his country’s crop of F-15s and F-16s will “last us well into the next one or two decades.” In December, Lockheed Martin obtained a $914 million contract to upgrade Singapore’s 60 plane F-16 fleet, with work occurring through 2023.
Asked if there was a geopolitical situation in the region that could spur the country to speed up a procurement decision on the jet, especially given the turmoil in the South China Sea, Ng replied confidently that the current plan is the right one.
“It will not be influenced by what happens in the south china sea, nor China’s military might,” he said. “We’ve acknowledged China is a military power. It is really dictated by what we feel is our needs, as well as how we can contribute to defense globally.”